Steve Evans talks to www.themillers.co.uk...
We caught up with Steve Evans in the Netherlands this morning as we continue with our weekly Gaffer on a Sunday feature. We asked further about his second scouting mission overseas in two short weeks but a good place to start was Friday night's draw with Bradford City.
What are your reflective thoughts as you look back to Friday night and the 0 - 0 draw with Bradford City?
There is no doubt that we should have won the match and I would say comfortably at that but in football if you do not take your chances created then you don't win. When you watch the match back on DVD it is clear that Vuckic, Arnason, Smallwood and Tavernier should perhaps all score, on another day I would expect them too. If you add to that the penalties we should have had, there looked to be fouls on both Alex Revell and James Tavernier in the second-half and of course Bradford City's Gary Jones appears to play the ball with his hand as he moves in the direction of the goal, that incident happening as we just entered time added on. I do not know what we have to do for us to be given penalties; we don’t seem to be getting the decisions at the moment. Overall I thought the referee had an excellent match but as I told him, us managers only want them to get the big decisions right.
I looked for the players to offer a positive reaction after a poor performance last Tuesday and they gave us all one. The performance was strong, dominant and we played some outstanding football. Bradford City recently went to Leyton Orient and dominated the match for long spells; it speaks further for our performance when you note they only ever got over the half-way line via the odd counter attack.
Moving on from the match itself to the overall occasion. The New York Stadium looked magnificent in front of the live Sky Television cameras, the Millers support created a superb atmosphere and again gave the team some tremendous vocal backing, thank you once again. We are going to need that level of support as we go into the play-offs, an achievement for everyone at Rotherham United and one that I feel has not been given the recognition it deserves. The lads have done a superb job but for all of us the true season has only just started, this rollercoaster is truly on the go!
May I also add my thanks to both sets of supporters for the impeccable minute’s silence before the match, this of course in tribute to those that lost their life at Hillsborough. Those families have fought so long for justice, our thoughts are with them.
Moving on and speaking of the League One play-offs, do you feel the teams currently in place now are those that will fight it out?
Yes I certainly do. Leyton Orient, Preston North End and ourselves are confirmed and my adopted hometown club Peterborough United are all but there. If you take everything over the season into consideration many would have thought we are the only team to be heading for the play-offs that was given no chance when the season started back last August but there is no doubt we are there on merit.
Preston North End will start play-offs favourites followed closely by Leyton Orient. There is not if anything to split those two excellent teams and it will perhaps be about who handles the pressure that succeeds. Peterborough United have like Wolves, Brentford and a host of others invested heavily to get back into the Championship and what comes with that is a good quality of player, I believe they recruited players at a cost of just under £4million pounds. All of this clearly makes us the underdogs but that does not worry me in the slightest.
As I said we deserve to be at least in the play-offs. We will make sure the lads are fresh and ready, it really is something we embrace and look forward to. Our supporters will also embrace it just as they have done for the last two seasons, every week they seem to up there backing and that is what we the team have to now match.
How is the injury situation and in particular Lee Frecklington?
We are in good shape and we need that as we do not carry the size of squads that those other teams I mentioned above do. Frecks is improving every day and desperate to play but I want to make sure he is 100% ready when he does. There is no doubt he is important to us but then again all our players are.
The lads have had a couple of days off but they are all back in tomorrow as we get ready for both the matches with Wolves and Port Vale respectively.
Is it your intention to rotate the squad over the remaining four matches before the start of the play-offs?
Rotation us not something I believe in so the answer to that must be no. However, I will at times look to perhaps leave the odd couple of players out who I think would largely benefit from missing a match or two. My sole focus is now being ready for the play-offs, nothing else matters this season. On the other hand players need to be at the top end of their game if they want a place in the team when Saturday 10th May comes around, only those deserving a shirt will get one so let the competition begin.
Finally, you are in Holland today to look at potential players, any clues?
Yes I am but no I won't be giving out any clues. I came here the week before last with my Chairman Tony Stewart and we saw enough for me to come back today. I have two players at the front of my mind for next season and they are quality, they would both be great for us but we will I'm sure have competition to sign them.
I will watch the match late this afternoon and catch the last plane back tonight so I am back on the training ground in the morning. As always in football and perhaps life, the harder you work the better chance you have.